Friday the 13th, Camp Crystal Lake #3: The Carnival – Eric Morse

Spoilers Ahead!

I’ve been waiting and waiting and Friday the 13th is finally here again!

You know what that means! It’s time to spend some quality time with Jason.

Except Jason’s a no show. Apparently he’s still enjoying his slaycation in hell because he doesn’t even make a cameo in this book.

His mask is still at Camp Crystal Lake though, ready for the next set of victims to arrive.

During the first two books we got to know the Boone family. Billy and his friends participated in Camp Crystal Lake’s Mother’s Day massacre. Then Kelly, Billy’s sister, decided it was her turn to experience all of the bloody fun she missed out on the year before. No Boone’s were harmed in the making of this book, although that may just be because there aren’t any left.

Vince Fantana’s Travelling Fun House and Carnival has come to Crystal Lake for the weekend of “the July Fourth blowout”. That probably should have been my first clue that I wasn’t going to enjoy this book as much as the first two in the series. A Crystal Lake massacre that occurs on a day other than Friday the 13th? Sacrilege!

I’m not sure what bright spark thought it was a good idea to set up a carnival on the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake, where the land is most likely still squishy with the blood of the most recent massacre. It’s a good thing sleazeball Vince surrounds his carnival with an electric fence, because that’s not a recipe for disaster or anything.

Some of the carnies who may not live to tell the tale are:

Mitch Deevers – Mitch is in his late 20’s and is the creepy chief mechanic for the carnival. He has tattoos of snakes and the names of all of his conquests on his arms.

Stump – Mitch’s rottweiler. Mitch chopped off his dog’s tail for some reason; hence the name.

Helen, AKA, Madame Xaviera – the carnival’s fortune teller.

Selena Tokar – Helen’s 17 year old daughter.

Molly Meecham – the carnival nurse and the freak show’s “Fat Lady”.

I also wouldn’t place bets on Stu, Karl, Big Joe, Peg O’Neill or Moe the clown living long enough to enjoy the midnight fireworks. I definitely wasn’t a fan of one of the carnies being referred to as a ”midget”.

Attending the carnival on this fateful night are a small group from Holloway, Massachusetts, which is only 30 miles from Crystal Lake. I mention its proximity as it’s close enough for them to have heard all about Camp Crystal Lake on the grapevine. They should know better than to tempt fate.

Our main character, who you will definitely not want to be a final girl, is Maxi (Maxine, but don’t call her that) Wagner. An only child with a troubled home life, Maxi is a shoplifter, hitchhiker and was caught smoking dope at school, which is why she’s a year older than the rest of her class. She’s angry and mean, and I’m not entirely sure why she still has any friends, given the way she treats them. She’s not a virgin so, if Horror 101 has taught us anything, she probably won’t survive.

Maxi is 17, tall, thin and beautiful, with “long legs that seemed to go all the way up to her head.” Of course, every time I imagine this potential victim running away from the killer I see this in my head:

Wendy (Wens) Denberg is 16, short and not pretty. That’s almost all that I know about her.

KC (Katherine Carter) is 16 and is sweet and polite. She’s a virgin and considers ‘sleazeball’ a swear word so you’d think she’d be safe, but going to the carnival was initially her idea so her virginity may not save her.

Greg Dillon is a senior from Hawthorn. His parents died in a car accident the day after his 13th birthday so in theory it would be cruel to kill him off. However, he has a huge crush on Maxi so his judgement is not the best. That may be his downfall.

All of these potential corpses have been attending summer school. Graham Newton, who’s 26 and British, goes to the carnival with the three girls. He’s their summer school English teacher. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Also ripe for the picking are Bernard LeBlatt (12), Nick Harris (13) and the Barfield family – James, Mrs (the poor woman doesn’t have a first name) and their three year old son, Bobby.

Liberties really are being taken with this series now. It’s Friday the 13th adjacent at best. While it was still an okay read I was disappointed overall. It takes a while for the action to begin. Early on we have our first casualty, a bug, but then we have to wait until 45% before the human carnage commences. RIP, little bug. Oh, and a rodent dies as well.

The most detailed death scenes seemed to be reserved for minor characters and I only learned of the demise of some of the main characters after the fact. The mask has retained its magical powers from the first two books; tattoos are also magic in this book.

The killer was a huge letdown for me. They couldn’t even take credit for a good portion of the kills. Instead the rides, which are essentially possessed by the invisible evil vapour that’s supposedly wafting up from the ground, and the electric fence are responsible for the most interesting ones.

From the a woman most likely wouldn’t have written this about a 17 year old schoolgirl files: “Naked, she was sitting on the edge of her bed, pressing a cold can of beer against her forehead.” When said 17 year old schoolgirl is in a bad mood it automatically means she must be getting her period. Naturally! There couldn’t be any other reason.

I’m hoping my next Friday the 13th read will be worth the wait.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Four teenagers looking for fun and thrills to break up the boredom of summer school get more than they had bargained for when they visit a traveling carnival that has pitched its tents at the old Crystal Lake campgrounds.

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